The Department of Defense announced today the release of the annual report on sexual assaults involving members of the armed forces for calendar year 2004. Congress requested this data in the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2005.
The report provides data on the number of sexual assaults against members of the armed forces and the number of sexual assaults by members of the armed forces that were reported to military officials during 2004; and the synopsis of, and the disciplinary action taken, in each substantiated case.
The report establishes a consistent standard for capturing department-wide data and provides a reliable baseline for comparing sexual assault data from year to year. Rates based on this data are not comparable to those published by the Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR). The UCR records only charged cases of rape and attempted rape against women, while DOD tracks all reported cases of sexual assault, which includes indecent assault, nonconsensual sodomy, as well as rape and attempted rape.
The department defines sexual assault as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault, and attempts to commit such acts.
The department also provided Congress a summary of the policies, procedures and processes in place or implemented during 2004 in response to incidents of sexual assault involving service members. In addition, Congress received reports from the military services detailing actions they will take during 2005 to prevent and respond to sexual assault.
During 2004, military criminal investigators received 1,700 allegations of sexual assault involving members of the armed forces worldwide. These allegations included 1,275 incidents involved a service member as a victim and 1,305 incidents involved a service member as an alleged offender.
As of Dec. 31, 2004, law enforcement authorities had completed 1,232 of 1,700 investigations alleged assaults. Commanders took punitive action against 393 offenders, and 340 subjects were awaiting final disposition of their cases as of the Dec. 31 cut off date of the report. Action was not taken against 351 subjects because unfounded/unsubstantiated allegations, lack of evidence, or recanted statements. Lack of assailant identification prevented commanders from taking action against 278 subjects.
The departments next annual report will address the 468 investigations that were pending completion and the 340 subjects of completed investigations who were awaiting final dispositions of their offenses when the report closed on Dec. 31, 2004.
Over the past year, the department has worked collaboratively with the services, members of Congress, and national experts to address the crime of sexual assault within our ranks. In October 2004, the department established the Joint Task Force for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (JTF SAPR) as its single point of accountability for sexual assault policy. The JTF SAPR took the lead in developing a comprehensive sexual assault prevention and response policy for the department.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense is working closely with the military departments to implement this policy and to make it a permanent and integral component of military conduct. The JTF SAPR is providing policy oversight and will become a permanent office later this year. To view the executive summary of the departments report to Congress, click here. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/May2005/d20050506summary.pdf